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Van Andel Research Institute and TGen undertake alliance to promote science and health

PHOENIX, Ariz. Feb. 11, 2009 The Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) will forge a strategic alliance that will enable both to maximize their worldwide contributions to science and health.

The non-profit researcher institutes jointly announced today the initiation of an "alliance and affiliation agreement.''

The partnership between Grand Rapids, Mich.-based VARI and Phoenix, Ariz.-based TGen will enable both institutes to speed up their mutual goals of moving research discoveries about cancer and other debilitating medical conditions as quickly as possible from laboratories to patient care.

VARI is the research arm of the Van Andel Institute (VAI), established in 1996 as a philanthropic research and educational organization by the late Jay and Betty Van Andel.

"We are excited to welcome TGen as they combine forces with us in our mission to conquer cancer and human disease,'' said VAI Chairman and CEO David Van Andel. "This alliance demonstrates that VARI and TGen are at the forefront of redefining a borderless, collaborative, national and international scientific community that transcends geographical limitations."

The alliance combines the groundbreaking basic research expertise of VARI with the cutting-edge translational genomics and analysis of TGen.

"Combining many of the scientific, educational, financial and business potentials of TGen and VARI will advance the research of both institutions and enhance the economic development of both Arizona and Western Michigan,'' said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, President and Scientific Director of TGen since its founding in 2002.

"This alliance will elevate both organizations in the world of scientific research," said Dr. Trent, who will retain his roles at TGen, but upon implementation of the agreement also will become President and Research Director of VARI.

Dr. Trent will replace Dr. George Vande Woude, who in 1998 was appointed the founding Director of VARI.

"The search for a new director has ended with the best possible results a renowned, research director in Dr. Trent, who will now lead VARI, and an alliance that strengthens two of the nation's fast-emerging leaders in biomedical research," David Van Andel said.

Dr. Vande Woude, a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, will remain at VARI as head of the Laboratory of Molecular Oncology. Dr. Vande Woude, who held top-level administrative posts at the National Cancer Institute since the early 1980's, will be able to achieve a long-held desire to return to the lab full-time.

"This is a great moment for both Institutions. I have known Dr.Trent professionally for nearly 20 years and have always admired him as one of the nation's leading scientists. One of Dr. Trent's greatest attributes is bringing together researchers from many disciplines to work on problems that will improve human health," Dr. Vande Woude said.

TGen is dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders, diabetes and infectious diseases. TGen, founded in 2002, is on the cutting edge of translational research, in which investigators unravel the genetic basis of complex diseases and medical conditions.

VARI opened its facility in 2000. Its 18 research laboratories are primarily dedicated to molecular cancer research, but it also focuses on conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson disease, osteoporosis, and heart disease. VARI will open a 240,000 square-foot building expansion this fall, which will allow it to broaden its efforts to include additional neurological disorders and chronic illnesses. VARI's primary work has been in basic research looking for what occurs to cause disease in individual cells, and using that information to identify "biomarkers" that can help predict and diagnose diseases, and lead to the development of safer, more effective drugs.

"VARI is on the verge of expanding its already strong basic research programs and implementing further translational research,'' said Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen's Physician-In-Chief and a world-renowned cancer scientist.

"TGen is poised to translate the discoveries generated in laboratories from both organizations into real solutions for patients,'' said Dr. Von Hoff, who also is Chief Scientific Officer of TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare. "This is a terrific opportunity to work together and increase our chances for making a difference for our patients.''

Both TGen and VARI are relatively young organizations that have triggered regional growth of the life sciences and biomedical industries in Arizona and Western Michigan.

Both organizations have a strong focus on cancer, collaborations and expansion locally, nationally and internationally.

The "alliance and affiliation agreement'' is expected to become effective July 1, 2009.


Contact: Steve Yozwiak, TGen Senior Science Writer
The Translational Genomics Research Institute

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